ROCK HILL, S.C. — Two students at Fort Mill High School were charged after threats of violence were discovered written on bathroom walls last week, police said.
A 16-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with one count of student threats and one count of threatening a public employee and four counts of vandalism.
A 14-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with one count of student threats and one count of vandalism.
The two teens were placed into custody, served their juvenile summons/petitions for the charges and then released to the custody of their parent/guardian, police said.
School administrators sent parents a notice on Sept.8 about the threats.
The names of the kids were not released because of their ages.
Message from the Fort Mill School district superintendent:
“I have some additional positive news to share with you regarding the recent situation at Fort Mill High School. We have received notification from law enforcement that an additional individual has been charged in relation to the messages written on the bathroom walls at Fort Mill High School last week. This individual is believed to be responsible for the remaining messages at the school and will now face school discipline and criminal action.
“We are thankful to the school and district staff, law enforcement, and to the community for the support in response to this situation. Our school and district staff were in constant communication with law enforcement from the beginning of this situation, and we were able to implement additional precautionary measures immediately. I especially want to thank our teachers and school staff for the uninterrupted education in the classroom while this incident was addressed.
“While we are happy to have a resolution to this situation, we continue to ask parents to talk with their students about the impact of this type of behavior. As you can see from this incident, actions like these cause major disruptions to education, unwarranted stress and anxiety for students, parents and staff, and take important resources away from other possible emergencies in our district and community. I would also like to ask that everyone refrain from perpetuating rumors or misinformation on social media. This can cause additional impediments to investigations of this type and unnecessary panic in the community. Our ability to respond to these types of situations is only strengthened by the involvement of our community. If you see something, say something by reaching out to the administration or via our tip line, which can be found on the district and school websites at https://www.fortmillschools.org/tipline.
“Thank you again for your patience as we worked through this situation and for helping us stop similar incidents in the future.”
Parents who kept students from school after threats learn absences are unexcused
Families who kept their children home after threats of violence at Fort Mill High School are upset because the absences are considered unexcused.
However, another social media post on Tuesday stirred up fears again.
“My daughter was in tears calling me,” parent Deidre said. “I picked her up Friday evening early and I’ve kept her home since.”
Sifford and dozens of other parents also kept their kids out of school in the wake of several violent threats.
“I don’t necessarily feel that they are good to go back to school,” Sifford told Channel 9.
Many parents agree and do not think it’s right that the school is making them use a signed written excuse so that the absences don’t count as unexcused.
“We shouldn’t have to use them for a threat to our kids,” parent Kristie Wade said. “We should have to use them for a reason that’s other than a safety issue.”
Wade and the other parents who Channel 9 spoke with said their children feel uncomfortable at the school amid the threats.
“Why not go to online learning until they have done almost every single measure to keep out kids feeling good about going back?” Wade said.
The district has not budged on the unexcused absence issue and is has encouraged students to return to school.
“Obviously, if we did not feel like it was safe to have the students at the school, we would be looking at other options,” said Joe Burke, the spokesperson for Fort Mill Schools.
Burke said the school is safe and police have arrested the teens responsible for some of the threats and they are looking for others.
“So we do feel that it’s safe, law enforcement and we are working very closely to make sure that it’s safe for students to be there,” Burke said. “So we’re really hoping students will return to the school at this point.”
VIDEO: Student charged after Fort Mill school threat, district officials say
“It’s really a bad situation,” said mom Puntha Krishnan after the threats were made. “It’s really scary.”
“Everyone has been a little nervous and uneasy,” said mom Brunella Fiske.
The messages read “Tuesday will be history” starting at 10 a.m., which the district treated as a possible threat.
Krishnan told Channel 9′s Almiya White that her son wanted to stay far away from school that day.
“He said, ‘I don’t want to go to school.’”
School officials sent a letter to parents after the threat was found, saying there would be extra patrols throughout the day and adjustments to class transitions.
“At every single entrance there are police officers,” said mom Carol D’Agostino. “There’s a very strong presence.”
But parents White spoke to were split on the impact of that extra security.
“So I feel much more comfortable sending my son to school,” D’Agostino said.
“I wish there was more,” Fiske said. “More metal detectors, one way in one way out. I wish they didn’t allow backpacks today. They should’ve just allowed a notebook and pen.”
(WATCH BELOW: South Carolina teachers push for school safety plan, law to report lost or stolen guns)
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